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The avocado leader: From crisis to growth

The author Octavio Peralta is the secretary-general of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific, Founder & CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives and President of the Asia-Pacific Federation of Association Organizations.



An avocado is a fruit with a hard inner core and a soft layer around it. Thus, an “avocado leader” can refer to one with innate business skills and a humane approach to managing people.

In the webinar, “Are You a Future-ready Leader?” by Australia-based futurist Gihan Perera, I learned the essential traits of an “avocado leader.”

What does an association executive navigating and working through the three phases of crisis, recovery and growth need to focus on to be future-ready? Emulating an “avocado leader,” the association executive has to use both hard (organizational) and soft (people) skills to be able do this.

Below are what I have learned from Gihan’s presentation:

1. Crisis. A crisis doesn’t necessarily create leaders; it amplifies them. During this time of disruption and great uncertainty, leaders need to step up. Future-proofing your association may not be possible but it can be future-ready. At best, the avocado leader has to provide two essential elements: clarity of goals and direction to the team and the organization, and empathy for the staff working in a “new normal” workplace.

2. Recovery. At this critical juncture, the avocado leader, using available information, inherent skills, better judgment and wisdom, needs to do two things: take action (make plans with backups, prioritize activities and resources, and focus on the work at hand; and build trust among the key stakeholders of the organization (i.e., board, management, staff, members, and volunteers).

3. Growth. To achieve growth, the avocado leader has to consider three transformational realities: (1) the vision on where the organization is heading after a thorough assessment of the environment around it; (2) digitalization as an imperative no matter how and what the scale the organization is adopting to it; and (3) team structure and work setup such as who does the job, where work is done, and when the work should be completed.

In its “Keeping Us Up at Night” survey released this year, KPMG Int’l Ltd. uncovered key issues as Australia’s business leaders see them. The key challenges identified for 2022 and for 3 to 5 years and beyond are: (1) talent acquisition, retention and re/upskilling to meet a more digitized future; (2) dealing with cyber vulnerability; (3) challenges and benefits of employees working remotely; (4) digital transformation and optimization and extracting organizational value from it; and, (5) dealing with evolving regulatory processes, reporting changes and impact.

When tackling change and disruption, all organizations, including associations, go through three stages: crisis, recovery, and growth. How one copes, performs, and thrives depends on how one responds at each stage.

So how well do you rate yourself on these future-ready leadership skills? Are you able to deal with people who are still in crisis? Can you lead your team through recovery? And do you have what it takes to be proactive and push for growth? and is republished by us with the permission of them the author Octavio Peralta and the Philippine Business Mirror.


This article was originally published by BusinessMirror and is republished by us with their and the author's permission.